Russia's army may never recover from Ukraine war, Pentagon says

Russia’s army may not recover from the Ukraine war: Putin has lost HALF his tanks and will find it ‘very difficult’ to rebuild, Pentagon says

  • Russia’s military devastated in eight months of war in Ukraine, Pentagon says 
  • Putin has lost half of tanks and most of his precision missiles, Colin Kahl said 
  • Sanctions mean strongman will struggle to rebuild to pre-war levels, Kahl added 

Russia’s military may never recover from the damage it has suffered in Ukraine, the Pentagon has said. 

Colin Kahl, the under secretary for defence, revealed half of Vladimir Putin’s tanks have been destroyed and most of his precision missiles used up since he ordered the invasion a little over eight months ago.

Sanctions mean it will be ‘very difficult’ for Moscow to rebuild its forces to their pre-war strength, Kahl added, before even taking into account the ‘tens of thousands of casualties’ suffered since February 24.

Russia has lost half its tanks and most of its precision missiles in Ukraine and will find it ‘very difficult’ to replace them, then Pentagon has said

Speaking to CNN, he said: ‘Putin has failed. Russia will emerge from this war weaker than it went in….

‘Putin went into this war trying to extinguish Ukraine as an independent, sovereign democratic country. He’s failed, and that’s not going to change. 

‘A sovereign, independent, democratic Ukraine is going to endure.’

The true scale of Russia’s losses in Ukraine are unclear, but are thought to be high. 

Moscow claims to have lost around 6,000 men, but given Putin just mobilised 300,000 reservists to plug gaps in his frontline this is almost certainly false.

The Pentagon said back in July that 75,000 had been killed and wounded combined but has not updated that figure since. 

James Heappey, British armed forces minister, said in late September that around 25,000 Russian soldiers had been killed.

Ukraine, which keeps a daily running tally, estimates that almost 78,000 have been killed – though does not give a separate figure for wounded.

Kyiv also claims Russia has lost around 2,800 tanks, more than 5,500 armoured troop carriers, and 4,000 smaller vehicles.

Lloyd Austin, the US defence secretary, said near the start of the war that Washington’s aim was ‘to see Russia weakened to the degree it can not do the kind of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.’

Though he has not repeated the phrase since, upgrading Kyiv’s military resources to make their army more lethal while heavily sanctioning Russia suggests that this remains the goal.

Putin launched what he expected to be a days-long war to overthrow Ukraine’s government and regain control over the country on February 24.

Simultaneous air, land and sea attacks from every direction on virtually every part of the country aimed to overwhelm Ukraine’s army and end the war before it began.

But a staunch resistance – led by the talismanic President Volodymyr Zelensky and masterminded by General Valerii Zaluzhnyi – saw that plan thwarted.

First, Russia was forced into an humiliating retreat from Kyiv having failed to take the capital which was the primary aim of the war.

Then, its offensive to ‘liberate’ the eastern Donbas was fought to a standstill with large parts of the region still in Ukrainian hands.

Ukrainian troops fire an artillery shell at Russian forces near the eastern town of Bakhmut, the only place where Putin’s army is still trying to advance

Now, Ukraine is starting to drive Russia out of some of the territory it has won – including the entirety of the northern Kharkiv region.

The city of Kherson, the only regional capital taken by Putin’s forces, is also under increasing threat with Western officials briefing that Russia is in the advances stages of planning for a retreat.

Zelensky says his goal is to retake all territory Russia currently occupies, including areas of the Donbas and Crimea that were seized during the 2014 war.

While this outcome is far from guaranteed, Ukraine has shown itself to be adept in attack and support for the war to continue shows no sign of abating.

Meanwhile support for Putin within Russia appears to be fracturing, as elites within his regime jockey for power and hundreds of thousands flee the country to avoid being drafted into the military.

Though there is no sign he is about to fall from power or that he is ready to stop the conflict, he has few good options left and almost no viable path to victory.

Russian strikes on Ukraine’s power grid and threats of nuclear holocaust suggest that he views his best option as breaking Kyiv’s will to fight and the unity of its allies. 

It remains to be seen how this strategy will play out as winter falls, energy prices rise, and thousands of Ukrainians begin freezing in their homes.

At present, it is showing little sign that it will succeed. Should that gambit fail, Putin will be almost entirely out of options. 

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